by David Phelps
Smooth Transitions, a program for freshman of color, first generation students, and those interested in cultural diversity, might have easily fallen through the cracks this year if not for student Sonia M. Suber.
After Cynthia Duncan’s final year as director of multicultural affairs during the 2012-2013 school year, Suber “stepped up to that leadership position and made that whole thing go,” said first-year student Shideh Javan, a participant in Smooth Transitions. “She literally put the entire program together” and “took the initiative to make sure that Smooth Transitions was a program that was just as awesome as when she was a part of it.”
Talking to Suber about her role in Smooth Transitions, one notices how she diminishes her own accomplishments, instead referring to the groundwork laid by those before her, and the help she received from friends.
Nevertheless, by virtue of taking over as the primary organizer, Suber’s pride and enthusiasm for Smooth Transitions and the students that it benefits are apparent.
“She really cares about us and new students in making sure they feel welcome and ready to step into the world of college,” underclassman Ashley Eblin said. For some, that first small step toward college feels like Neil Armstrong’s giant leap.
Smooth Transitions helps make that leap less threatening for students who feel worried about moving forward into higher education.
“It’s a pre-orientation program… for students of color [and] for kids who embrace diversity and diversity in their community. The goal at the end of it is to be… culturally aware of the people around you,” Javan said.
As a pre-orientation program, Smooth Transitions groups incoming freshmen together with mentors, who are responsible for creating activities and helping grandfather the new students into the pace of college life.
Eblin said that “[Sonia’s] honesty in many group discussions really helped me open up and get to know my fellow Smooth Transitions attendees,” which “helped me grow and be ready for… life at Capital.”
As a part of the program, freshman get a chance to experience Capital campus before the hectic activity that comes with move in day. Trevon Fout, one of Sonia’s mentees, said “I was able to get used to the campus before all of the hustle and bustle… and I was able to connect with my mentors and peers on a personal level.”
The connections that Smooth Transitions creates for freshman help them develop bonds before the school year begins.
Fout said, “almost all myd friends are from Smooth Transitions.” A sentiment echoed by Eblin: “I still talk to almost everyone in Smooth Transitions and always know I have them, and Sonia, and the other peer mentors if I ever need anything.”
As a whole, Smooth Transitions’ contribution to the shaping of Capital’s youngest student body is nothing short of incredible; but, it’s Suber’s own passion for the people and the program which makes it, and her, extraordinary. Students like Javan, Eblin, and Fout will carry the impression that Sonia leaves on them through every year of college.
“Sonia did an amazing job running and organizing it this year!” Fout said. “She also, in my opinion, has become a friend that I can talk to about anything, and I feel like she will never judge me or think less of me.”